Monday, July 1, 2013

The Challenges We Face At The Draft

I may have mentioned this before.  Draft. . . Day . . . Is . . . Awesome!!!  It is something every owner looks forward to from essentially the last out of the World Series.  It’s an opportunity to rebuild your team.  Or it’s an opportunity to tweak your team.  It’s certainly an opportunity to see and catch up with fellow owners whom you may not have seen since last year’s draft or possibly since the End of the Year Banquet.

One of the complaints I’ve always had about our Draft Day is that we are not afforded a lot of time to just hang with each other.  Usually the draft and the picks for the Reserve List will run about six-seven hours start to finish.  Eight of our owners have wives.  Five have young children.  Three travel in from out of state.  For most of us, when the draft ends it’s time to head back home and engage in “normal” life.  We don’t have the time (or take the time) to sit around for an hour or two and re-live the draft.  That’s not really a challenge of the draft, more of a reality.  But we do face challenges in running a smooth and effective draft.  Here are some of those challenges:

Keeping a healthy pace:  I would say we have just about mastered the right pace for our drafts.  As I mentioned above, the draft runs about six to seven hours.  When you consider we have ten teams needing to draft about a third of their roster AND fill seventeen reserve slots, that’s a lot of action that needs to be completed.  Here’s an example for 2013’s draft.  Ten teams used the Auction Draft to acquire 112 players.  After the Auction Draft we fill out our Reserve Roster and we needed to fill 141 slots.  In 2013 the whole day took about 6 and a half hours (390 minutes).  In 390 minutes we filled 253 positions or one player every one minute and 30 seconds.  That’s a pretty healthy pace when you consider we do have to stop and take a break and stretch and use the facilities every so often.  If we don’t want to be drafting for ten hours (oh yeah, years ago we did that) then we have to avoid distractions like . . . 

Reminiscing:  Not so much about other drafts in CFCL history, although that certainly gets brought up.  But more about having really weird conversations about childhood memories, like Gigglesnort Hotel.  Which led to remembrances of other childhood weekend TV shows which led one owner to admit to his childhood crush of Henrietta Hippo.  I swear to the baseball gods I am not making this up.  Hilarious conversation?  Certainly.  Killer of the draft pace?  Absolutely.

Losing Track:  It is inevitable that over the course of six plus hours a man’s mind will wander.  All of us have been guilty of asking “What’s the bid at?”  “Who’s turn is it?” or perhaps the most embarrassing question “Who are we bidding on?”  It happens.  We have been able to police ourselves pretty well to make sure no one is spacing out.  There have been  years with certain owners where almost every time around the table there would be that look in their eyes where you just knew they didn’t realize the bid was on them or they didn’t know what the bid was.  For a few years we developed a Kangaroo Court to assess fines for owners that lost track of the draft.  We figured even if that wouldn’t make them pay closer attention then at least we could profit off of them.

Cat Napping:  This one hurts.  Yes, we have had one owner actually fall asleep during the draft.  Oh I don’t mean he pulled out a pillow, grabbed his binky and climbed up on the table to go to sleep.  He just leaned back in his chair, waiting for the bid to come around to him. . . . there was a lull as some owner gave extra consideration to raising the bid by a penny and by the time the action came around to the relaxing owner it was evident by the way he jerked forward and OPENED HIS EYES that he had dozed off.  At least he had the consideration to simply drop out of the bidding rather than ask to be updated on the status of the bid.

Avoiding Homicide:  Having owners space out or simply not pay attention to what’s going on is maddening.  But nothing comes close to having a new owner sit in his first CFCL draft and comment that “this is like watching paint dry.”  David and I have explained the nuances of the CFCL.  We are an “around the table auction league.”  We take turns bidding on players.  We don’t yell out bids like a true auction.  It takes a little longer, it’s a more measured approach but it’s something we do and *most* of our owners have come to appreciate it.  The Reservoir Dogs – not so much.  Jason Grey came to us with tremendous experience in fantasy baseball drafts.  His other leagues could draft entire teams in the space of an hour or two.  They would nominate Albert Pujols for .44 and go from there.  That cuts down on the time – and the fun in my opinion.  When Jason sat in on his first CFCL draft it was basically like having a speeding car slam into a brick wall.  He was massively frustrated when an owner would nominate Greg Maddux for a penny.  He couldn’t wait until the bid got to him so he could raise the bid to the appropriate value for Maddux.  Draft strategy and approach is fine.  But when a new owner says that the thing we wait every year for is “like watching paint dry”, well you can’t help but want to defend your league.

Setting the alarm:  One last challenge we face is trying to get everyone to show up on time.  The way we run things on Draft Day is that we conduct league business first (collect fees, elect the Executive Committee, sign the trophy ball, take the League Photo, go over new rules, hand out draft sheets, etc) and then move on to the Ruffin Privilege.  All of that takes time and is not factored into the six to seven hours of actual drafting.  Throughout the winter there are multiple, multiple e-mails and posts to our main information blog we call the Front Office that lays out what date the draft is and when it will start.  Inevitably there are the owners that will show up after the designated time because they didn’t think Starbucks would be that busy.  Or they thought they remembered where to turn to get to the right parking lot.  Or they didn’t think on a Sunday morning there would be much traffic.

None of these things are huge deals.  Actually they add to the history and enjoyment of being in a league such as the CFCL.  But they are challenges we face in running an efficient draft.


  1. Being late to the draft - I can't even fathom that. I'm not even talking about just being respectful for the other guys in the league. I mean it's freaking Christmas morning. I can barely even sleep the night before, and I usually am awake before the alarm clock goes off (even when the draft starts in the late morning or early afternoon). It always makes me smile when I get there an hour early and the room is already half full. These are my people.

    Grey was right - for him - it takes a LOT of getting used to. I don't know if the CFCL greybeards have ever done an auction the "real" way, but it would be a shock to the system. I'm not even sure I'd be able to keep up with an auction paced like that anymore. And I don't want to either. Around-the-table is just fine.

  2. I was late to the draft once ... in 2010, my very last one. It was the one Bob Boryca had arranged for us to draft in a room at Plainfield North High School, and was scheduled to start late morning or early afternoon.

    Knowing it would be my last Draft, I left home super early, so I could get there in time to set up, visit with my fellow owners, and basically soak it all in.

    I was on my way, driving down the road where the high school was located, and saw it on my left. I pulled into the parking lot, and followed the directions Bob had provided about where to park. I checked my clock, and I was there in plenty of time. I hopped out of the car, unpacked my stuff, and wheeled it into the high school. I again followed the directions Bob had provided to find our assigned room ... it was dark and locked. I had shown up so early, I was the first to arrive. No problem ... I left my stuff outside the draft room and paced the halls. We were in the athletic wing and there were plenty of trophies and pictures to browse through.

    After a while, I began to get worried. It was now ten minutes from the assigned "arrival time" and I was the only one there. It was about then that I noticed that all the trophies I had been looking at were awarded to Plainfield EAST high school. CRAP! I was in the wrong school!

    It turns out that Plainfield East and Plainfield North are sister schools and are virtually identical, so even though I was in the wrong place, Bob's directions fit perfectly.

    Luckily the two campuses are only about 10 minutes apart, so I was able to make to the right place and get set up just in time for the Draft to start. I was the last one to arrive (the first time for that in 27 years), and totally blew my chance to visit with everyone before the Draft started. It pisses me off to this day.

    Oh - and in terms of the real auction format ... see the July 4 post for a story from the one time we tried a free for all auction round...